The only safe sex is no sex, but you can help to protect yourself by
practicing safer sex. Safer sex is about getting maximum pleasure out
of your sex life with minimum risk!
To practice safer sex you should:
- Think carefully before having sex, is it right for you at this time?
- Before you have sex discuss with your partner what protection you will use, and keep condoms ready.
- Learn about how sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are spread, what the signs of infection are, and where to go for help if you are worried.
- Always use a condom for oral, vaginal and anal sex, for oral sex
on a woman use a dental dam.
Have a routine check up at a sexual health clinic.
- Have a check up at a sexual health clinic every time you change your sexual partner.
- If you or your partner have symptoms, seek advice before you have
Tell your partner if you have an infection so that they can be treated too.
- Sex does not always have to involve penetration. Foreplay may give equal pleasure or enhance penetration.
Contrary to popular opinion, safer sex does not have to be less exciting
than taking risks. Safer sex can improve your sex life in many different
Safer sex can:
- Improve communication in relationships
- Increase intimacy
- Add diversity to sexual play
- Strengthen trust between partners
- Avoid unpleasant surprises
- Be fun and exciting
- Enhance orgasm and sexual pleasure
Precautions for greater safety
Penetrative vaginal sex - a condom should be put on before any genital contact, especially if the woman isn't using additional, reliable birth control. There are enough live sperm and germs at the tip of an erect penis to cause pregnancy or infection without penetration or ejaculation.
Penetrative anal sex - use a non-spermicidally-lubricated condom with extra water-based or silicone lubricant at all times. Its important to use sufficient lubrication, without which the condom is more likely to burst. Never move from anal to vaginal sex without changing the condom.
Foreplay - cover cuts, sores and other skin lesions on fingers with waterproof plasters or latex gloves, particularly during a menstrual period or if anal foreplay is involved. If you don't have latex gloves to hand, it's safer to use a non-spermicidal-lubricated condom over one or two fingers than bare hands. If you're not using protection and you're going to move on to vaginal foreplay, it's vital to wash your hands after anal foreplay.
Sex toys - if you're sharing toys, use the same level of protection as for penetrative sex. Wash toys thoroughly between partners.
Masturbation - there's no risk of infection if you're alone and using unshared items, unless a disease from one part of the body infects another through poor hygiene technique. An unwashed finger, for example, can spread genital gonorrhoea or chlamydia to the eye. During masturbation with a partner, follow the guidelines for foreplay.
Oral sex – there is a risk of picking up a STI from oral sex. Flavoured condoms and flavoured dams, which can be fun to use, will help to protect you. Oral sex should be avoided when either person has a cold sore.